Biography

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SYLVIE BALL                

BIOGRAPHY
1958  born Shirley Ball in Detroit, Michigan 
lived in Birmingham, Michigan
1970-1976 attended Kingswood School, graduated class of 1976
Cranbrook Schools, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
1976-1978 attended Washington University, School of Fine Arts, St. Louis, Missouri
1978 visited New York City for the first time to pursue interests in art and modeling.  
1979 moved to New York City and began attending The School of Visual Arts on 23rd street at night and modeled during the day.  Found apartment.  Finding an apartment in New York is big and I was very relieved when I finally found a suitable one.
1980  Joined Beaumont Modeling agency in January and began to use the first name "Sylvie" at suggestion of my agency.  Met photographer Richard Vogel at the agency in February and he took some of the best photos ever taken of me.  In spite of this promising start, by July my agency went out of business and one of the best NYC agencies- Elite- finally accepted me after many tries.  But a day or two later my phone rang and Elite had changed their mind and told me to "keep working on my book" on my own.  Without a big agency behind me, I felt I could no longer pursue modeling plus if I wanted to get my BFA, I was going to have to go to art school full time- during the day.  An adviser at SVA informed me that I could not get my degree by taking classes at night and I was going to have to matriculate if I wanted to graduate so in September of 1980 I enrolled as a full time 4th year art student at The School of Visual Arts.  It took me two extra years to get my degree because I lost credits when I transferred from Washington University and I was only going to school part time while I was modeling. 

Richard Vogel began working for Annie Lebovitz in the Fall and was assisting her at the Dakota on December 8th for a Rolling Stone cover shoot with John Lennon and Yoko Ono.  John Lennon was murdered 5 hours later.  Annie and Richard took the last pictures ever taken of John Lennon. 

Although I decided to walk away from modeling, I never lost my love of the excitement of a photo shoot - the white seamless, the whirring motor drives, the cameras, the big strobes popping, the Polaroids, the make up & hair transformation, being spontaneous and inventive in front of the camera, walking down a catwalk in sable furs, waiting for the film at the lab.  The urgency, the energy, the pursuit of a great photo was the shared goal and it was fun to be part of a creative team.  There is really nothing like it.  I developed a great appreciation for photography and for the great photographers like Irving Penn, Guy Bourdin, Richard Avedon, Arthur Elgort, Alex Chatelain, Patrick Demarchelier, Bill King and Mike Reinhardt to name a few.  During the next 10 years, I would work at 3 secretarial jobs and by 1990 I started shooting - not fashion, but art. 

1980-1981   attended The School of Visual Arts full time and received Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting.  I also took a lot of photography classes at SVA and graduated in the class of 1982 although I technically finished school by December 1981.  I studied typography with Ed Benguiat, who has a type face named after him.  Typography and words would later become a staple in my paintings. I had some other great teachers there like Jack Potter, Mike Shiffrin, Jackie Windsor, Elizabeth Murray and Ann McCoy.
1982-1984 joined the work force and found secretarial jobs working for two NYC companies:  A wholesale print gallery (schlock) called Avila Graphics (think Dali signing blank sheets of paper) on 39th Street and a Japanese interior design firm called IS Design on 11th Street.  
1985-1989 During the last half of the '80's, which also were the last half of my twenties, I worked as an assistant and office manager for Julian Schnabel at various locations in New York City.  I visited Italy for the first time in 1985 and photographed the ruins at Hadrian's Villa.  I traveled to Dusseldorf, Germany in 1987 to assist with a traveling retrospective of Julian's work.  The art scene in Germany was very exciting and vital.  The Germans take their art very seriously and it was refreshing to see such dedication at their museums.  I made a lot of paintings after I came back from Germany and was using all kind of words in my paintings, usually found on ordinary printed matter like napkins, tickets, cigar labels and matchbooks.  In 1989 I began to exhibit art with the late Dean Rolston and Bill Stelling at 56 Bleecker Gallery.  I went to Paris France in 1989 and visited as many art museums as I could, and took many photos. 

I met Andy Warhol twice while working in Julian's studio- and later Andy made fun of the way I told time in his diaries.  I wore a digital watch and told time by the minute instead of saying "it was quarter of, or half past, or something thirty."  Andy chided me for that.  Here you are meeting your big idol, and he makes fun of you in his diaries.  I met Jean-Michel Basquiat at the nightclub, Area in 1986.  Julian made a large painting in Jean-Michel's honor on the day he died, August 12, 1988.  It was a sparse painting on an olive brown tarp featuring his initials JMB in capital letters with the date of his death painted in white.  Julian also made a painting for Joseph Beuys on the day he died as well, January 23rd, 1986.  Five days later was another somber day at the office; the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986.  I met and worked with Nick Serota, a famous curator at the Tate Gallery in Britain who was instrumental in organizing a traveling retrospective of Julian's work.  Julian's third child with his first wife Jacqueline- a son named Vito Maria, was born during the summer of 1986.  Andy Warhol died on February 22nd 1987. Julian painted my portrait on his signature background of broken plates in 1987.  The painting was exhibited at the Whitney Museum in 1987 and is now in the collection of movie director Oliver Stone.  CVJ Nicknames of Maitre D's- which I helped type and organize, was published by Random House in 1987.  I left my job working for Schnabel in June of 1989.  The movie Born on the 4th of July was released in December of 1989 and actor Tom Cruise received his first nomination for best actor for his role of Viet Nam veteran Ron Kovic but the oscar went to Daniel Day Lewis.

1990 I began to work as a freelance photographer.  I had purchased a 35mm Nikon film camera with a number of lenses from Richard Vogel in 1984 shortly before he left for his extensive travels through Asia and in 1990 I was learning how to shoot large format photos with a 4 x 5 Speed Graphic.  I began to shoot art and installation shots for galleries and artists.
Art dealer Vrej Bagoomian included me in a Summer group painting show at his big new gallery located at 555 Broadway.  After seeing movie "Born on the 4th of July" I became interested in using military aircraft markings as subject matter for art.  My work became more minimal as I dropped the words from my paintings.
1991 I produced a small sculpture made of solid cast iron, a rendition of the German "Iron Cross" from a styrofoam positive with the help of Ron Lessard.
1992 Made a line of furniture comprised of pedestals and a coffee table with designer Tom Pedecine.  One of the pedestals was designed to display my Iron Cross.  We exhibit the line with the sculpture at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Jacob Javits Center.
1993 I had a solo show of my paintings of military motifs that included a variety of large paintings of the British Roundel, that looked like huge targets at the Paterson Museum in Paterson New Jersey. 
1994 My beloved grey tabby Trudy dies of unknown causes at the age of 13
1996 In February, I had another solo painting show of hearts, which were a continuation of my military motifs, at the Eighth Floor Gallery in New York City.  A German air squadron used a green heart as emblem on their aircraft, known as the "grunherz"  I must have made about 100 paintings of hearts after finding this motif.  The only artist I could think of that was using hearts as a painting motif was Jim Dine and I was coming at it from a military angle, same thing with Kenneth Noland's target paintings; his were ethereal and painterly, mine had hard edges and served a real purpose on military aircraft. 
My beloved grey tabby Max dies of Lymphoma on August 6th at the age of 17.
1997 Bought my first electric guitar in August.  Lady Diana is killed in Paris on August 31st in a senseless automobile accident.
1999 The internet arrives.  I purchased my first computer in April of 1999- a PC running Windows 98.  I send my first email using dial up.  I was shooting for a gallery called Debs&Co on 26th Street in Chelsea.  Galleries have left Soho and are now in Chelsea.
2000 launched my first website, sylviestock for photography and painting- (this website which has now, in 2010, been up for 10 years! I must have migrated the content on this site 5 times.)
Visited London for the first time and made visits to Tate Britain and Tate Modern had just opened. 
Stayed at a wonderful Ian Schraeger Hotel, St. Martin's Lane. 
2001 photographed World Trade Center attack from apartment window.
2002 became a webmaster.
2003 Visited Las Vegas in May and gambled for the first time.  Excelled at Video Poker, deuces wild.  Won $29 with 5 queens. Cashed in before I gambled it away.  While in Las Vegas we learned of The 2003 Casablanca bombings- a series of suicide bombings that took place on May 16, 2003 in Casablanca, Morocco.
to be continued
ONE PERSON EXHIBITIONS
1996 "reign of hearts" Eighth Floor Gallery NYC
1993 "Sylvie Ball" The Paterson Museum, Paterson, NJ
1989     "Sylvie Ball" The Red Zone organized by 56 Bleecker Gallery, NYC
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
1997 "Wet Paint" curated by Robert Ellis Patterson at the Mary Anthony Gallery, NYC
1995 "Beauty Salon" curated by Maynard Monrow at the Barbara Braathen Gallery, NYC
"1st Annual National Juried small works Christmas Exhibition" Juror, Ivan Karp, Chuck Levitan Gallery, NYC
"Soon to be Picturesque Ruins" curated by Alfredo Martinez, 450 Gallery, NYC
"Sunday by the Bay" auction to benefit STAT (Stopping AIDS Together) Bellport, Long Island with thanks to James Arpad
"Pseudo Museum" curated by Alfredo Martinez
Jupiter Interactive Productions, NYC
1994 "Entropy-Detritus from the Late 20th Century" curated by Alfredo Martinez, F.P.U 13, 413 East 13th Street, NYC
"Woodstock Wall" organized by Barbara Pensoy and
Vrej Baghoomian, Woodstock '94, Saugerties, NY
1993  "Urban Analysis" curated by Maynard Monrow, Barbara Braathen Gallery, NYC
1992  "The Gift" Dooley Le Cappellaine, NYC
1991 "New Directions '91" curated by Richard Armstrong
Dutchess County Art Association, Poughkeepsie, NY
1990 "Somewhere"curated by Robert Mahoney, Lintas Worldwide, NYC
"Group Exhibition" Vrej Baghoomian Gallery, NYC
1989       "Group Painting Show" curated by Kathleen Cullen,THE Gallery, NYC
"American Rainbow" organized by Marcel Fleiss, Galerie 1900-2000, Paris